For instance, Arthur and Lila Mae Debenham had chosen a title for their book years before they even started the process: They knew they wanted their book to reflect the "tender mercies" that God had bestowed upon them in their course through life, and this theme guided our efforts in the writing process, helping us decide what events to include and what to leave out.
But if you don't have a title already picked out, don't panic.
You can combine your name in a subtitle with a more thematic title, like .
Just keep in mind that the title of your book (along with the cover) is your first introduction to the reader.
Raise the stakes with each paragraph until you reach a climax or turning point. It’s not enough to say “And that’s what happened.” You have to describe how whatever happened shaped you.
Plan to add a conclusion that will evoke an emotional response in your reader. Your essay may well be about sexism, but you need to illustrate it through the lens of a defining incident that’s deeply personal to you. Just as a good lead hooks readers and draws them along for the ride, a good conclusion releases them from your essay’s thrall with a frisson of pleasure, agreement, passion or some other sense of completion.
They conclude with the author having learned, changed, or grown in some way and often present some truth or insight that challenges the reader to draw their own conclusions. Although the story itself is unique to the author’s experience, there’s some universal truth that speaks to us from just below the surface.
Topics like facing a fear, falling in love, overcoming an obstacle, discovering something new, or making a difficult choice tackle feelings and events that happen in everyone’s life.
—Anne Lamott, “Blessings: After Catastrophe, A Community Unites” Your hook and opening paragraph should establish the topic of your essay (or at least allude to it) and set the scene and tone. Your challenge is to evoke those senses and feelings without flatly stating them.
All it takes to understand the importance of an outline is listening to someone who struggled to tell a personal story. The switchbacks where the teller says “But wait, I have to tell you about this part, first! An outline will help you organize your thoughts before committing them to text. Don’t say “I felt cold.” Say “I exhaled and my breath turned to vapor that hung in the air.